Wrestling heads to Dubuque with hopes of reaching nationals

by Erich Bogner, sports writer

With almost two weeks of preparation, the Simpson College wrestling team is ready to go to Dubuque and face some of their toughest competition yet at the Central Region Championship tournament. Nine Simpson wrestlers will compete and placing in the top three will qualify a wrestler for the National Championship tournament.

Last season, the team won only one of 18 matches at the regional tournament. Now, they are fired up and feeling good.

175 pound junior, Brett Roberts, claimed the only Storm victory at last year’s tournament. This season, Roberts is 21-16 and ready to prove himself. “I know what it feels like now to get to regionals and not make nationals. I know what I did last year, and I know I have to do more than that.” Roberts said.

The road is difficult. With Wartburg, Luther and Coe to compete against, Simpson is in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. With that, head coach Nate Hansen and the wrestlers seem confident in their ability to come out on top.

“I think we’re going to have a handful of guys that are going to place in the top three. I don’t know who those guys are, but I think we are really going to surprise some people. Nobody expects us to have guys in the top three. But when the tournament is done, we are going to be the team that everyone is surprised by,” Hansen said.

To beat their tough competition, the team is having shorter practices to taper down and be as fresh as possible for the tournament. They are all pretty excited to get there and wrestle. Sophomore Jake Mize (157) said, “We’re all positive this year; going into it, we know we can have some qualifiers and we’re ready to go out and compete.”

Mize is ready to go back this year after losing his first match to the National Champion and also losing his second. His goal is to get stronger before the tournament and to find ways to keep wresting his style. He said winning in the tournament all depends on when the wrestler peaks.

Coach Hansen says that peak comes down to training. “We are training hard this week, and then they taper. All of their training since September, when they got here, has been building for this upcoming week,” he said.

Hansen says this part of the season feels good for the wrestlers. Some of them may be unaccustomed to having shorter practices, but once they experience it, they feel very fresh.

In the right mindset and with rested bodies, Brett Roberts, Jake Mize and the rest of Simpson’s wrestlers are primed for the Central Regional Championship tournament on Feb. 28.